To Louie and others, it was already clear that Japan had lost the war, even if they did not surrender. The soldiers are aware of the danger of a kill-order order. At other POW camps, men are separated and taken to remote areas, where they expect they will be killed. Dates are given when the men at Naoetsu might be killed.


In Dante’s Inferno, the lowest level of hell is not a place of heat and fire. Instead, it is a place of cold and ice. This is where Satan can be found. In Louie’s journey through hell, he has reached the bottom, which is also a place of cold and ice. Louie described Naoetsu as the worst location of all those he experienced in the war. He experiences frigid temperatures, ravaging sickness, forced exercise, and limited food. Chapter Twenty-Eight once again illustrates the way that, just when things have reached a horrible point, they can get worse. Louie was a slave laborer, but at least he could walk. Then he injures his leg and cannot even walk. Louie also comes close to death and reaches a point of desperation. He even begs his oppressor, the Bird, for work, so that he can have enough food to survive.

The physical experiences, including the labors of Louie and the other men, are also reminiscent of the physical experiences Dante witnesses in his journey through hell. The men are forced to work in extremely dangerous situations for eighteen-hour workdays. Transferring coal between ships close to a mile offshore is extraordinarily risky. The Bird uses his power to control Louie and to attempt to reduce him further. He renders Louie less human, as Louie is reduced to eating the pig’s food with hands that have been cleaning up after the pig. Louie reaches a breaking point, even after so much suffering. This portion of his life almost destroys him. He is almost out of hope.

Forms of communication, and the presentation of information and misinformation, continue to be strands running through the story. The Japanese try to feed the men “false news” at the same time as the men “read” signs that speak otherwise. The Japanese lie to the men about a sound that is actually made by an Allied bomb. The men have limited access to information that will inform them of what is truly going on with the war. On the west coast of Japan, the men are cut off from the kinds of information they had at Omori. However, the men resourcefully share what little information they have, and continue to work together as “allies.”